John Ehlis  CD Release “In This Lifetime”

Sunday, March 22nd.  Sets are at 7:30pm and 9:00pm.
at Trumpets Jazz Club, 6 Depot Square, Montclair, New Jersey
Guitarist and composer John Ehlis performs music from his latest release “In this Lifetime” with a celebrated group of musicians including Sylvain Leroux (flutes & dousin’ gouni’), Warren Smith (vibraphone), Max Johnson (bass) and Kresten Osgood (drums).
The personnel on the new recording includes: Karl Berger, Amalia Lopez Chueca, Glen Fittin, Mikko Innanen, Max Johnson, Yasuno Katsuki, Sylvain Leroux, Eloisa Manera, Sana Nagano, Kresten Osgood and Chris White III.
Sylvain Leroux, a pioneer of World music, is at the forefront of new developments in the meeting of African music and Jazz.  He is one of the rare outsiders to have mastered the “tambin” the flute of the Fulani people of Guinea.  Leroux is a pillar of the African music scene in New York City, as a leader of the groups Fula Flute and Source (with Abdoulaye Diabate), as well as a member of Kakande and the Mandingo Ambassadors.

Vibraphonist, drummer and percussionist Warren Smith’s rich and varied background ranges from classical to stints with Nina Simone, Charles Mingus, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin.  He made history, along with Max Roach, as one of the founders of the incomparable percussion unit M’Boom and operated the acclaimed loft space, “Studio Wis” throughout the 70’s and 80’s.  His playing on vibes, drums or percussion can be heard on thousands of recordings.

While a high school student in Montclair, bassist Max Johnson toured nationally and internationally with progressive rock artists Jon Anderson and John Wetton, played locally with artists such as Adrian Belew and Vernon Reid, and has since gone on to work alongside artists such as Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey, William Parker, Candido Camero and countless others.  His musical career, has taken him to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, England and Canada; to the stages of Lincoln Center, the United Nations and festivals including the Bern Jazz Festival, Quebec City International Summer Festival, Lollapalooza, and Zappanale.

Drummer Kresten Osgood is at the forefront of musicians from Jutland who are leading the Jazz scene in his native Denmark.  He has performed and recorded with Yusef Lateef, Oliver Lake, John Tchicai, Michael Blake, Peter Brötzman, Derek Bailey and many others. He also cultivates an upbeat rap language of his own invention with the group “Ikscheltaschel”, together with his cousin, the pianist Søren Kjærgaard.

Guitarist John Ehlis fully embraces the creative side of music throughout a wide range of diverse and varied artistic collaborations.

Drawn to traditional and folk music from around the world, Ehlis blends the sounds of many cultures into his own style.  As a multi-instrumentalist, he learned the mandolin busking on the streets of Denmark, Germany and Italy and has studied various woodwind instruments and percussion, including the Balinese Gamelan.  While in Zimbabwe he met local musicians and performed with Motsi Uruka at the Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo.  He also performs and studies the music of the Basques.

CIMP Review of Honeymoon on Saturn by Andrew Lamb Trio

With bassist Tom Abbs adding tuba, didgeridoo, and the occasional vocal to his setup, and all-around percussionist and long-tim collaborator Warren Smith on hand, the Andrew Lamb Trio generates a powerful sound on Honeymoon on Saturn. As engineer Mark Rusch observes, Lamb’s “tenor sounds like no other” that he’s recorded. His is a big and hard sound, tight and without any vibrato. In its absence of breath sound, you could almost think of it as the antithesis of latter-day Ben Webster. The tautness of Lamb’s approach to the horn almost inevitably leads to reed squeaks, which are incorporated into the flow of his ideas. Every one of his note choices has weight and heft. His lines are clear, emphatic, unexpected perhaps but establishing their own logic as they swirl past. In realizing his vision, he’s helped immensely by his partners, the cagey Abbs and the seriously under-appreciated Smith. Highlights in this deeply satisfying set include the animated three-way conversation that’s at the center of the long opening track, the elegantly strangled and insistent Year of the 13th Moon, the irresistible dance of A Alegria E O Prazer de uma boa Tarte, and the tender The Call of Love’s True Name, featuring a taste of Smith’s glockenspiel. At just over 10 minutes, Dance of the Prophet is a bit too long for its own good, an occasional hazard for the “what you hear is what it was” style of CIMP’s recordings. While Lamb’s tart, dry sound is definitely an acquired taste, it’s one worth cultivating for his fecund imagination and uniquely vivid style on tenor sax. Definitely recommended.2015_01_30_14_02_55

Warren chosen for Creative Music Foundation 2015 Workshops

CMF has named Guiding Artists for its 2015 Workshops:  June 8 – 12 with Steven Bernstein, Amir ElSaffar and Warren Smith; and October 5 – 9 featuring Peter Apfelbaum, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Billy Martin.
The Creative Music Foundation, a 501C(3) nonprofit corporation, makes it possible to profoundly experience and express our deep connection with the transforming energies of music, our universal language. CMF programs focus on the common elements of all music — emphasizing keen awareness, personal expression, intensive listening and cross-cultural communication, and providing unique opportunities for musicians, students and listeners from different backgrounds and traditions to explore together, share, develop, and broaden their musical understanding and sensitivity. CMF pursues its mission through workshops, residencies, coaching, concerts, recordings and archival projects that engage both listeners and musicians in the U.S. and around the world.

Review of Portraits: Wind, Thunder, and Love by Joseph Daley

Reviewed by Mark S. Tucker
Portraits: Wind, Thunder, and Love

The New Age front cover art to Portraits: Wind, Thunder, and Loveis more than a little misleading, the reverse liner photo giving the best sense of expectations to this CD and its environment: a small symphony ensemble arrayed around composer-conductor Joseph Daley. Portraits is the kind of novo-jazz nu-classical amalgam written and performed all too rarely on these shores. Long-time FAME readers know my affinity for this sort of music as portrayed by Anthony Davis in the 80s, and every new slab in league is always more than welcome as each travels back in time to a wrinkle in the neo-jazz canvas that was too briefly etched. Well, take heart, y’all, ’cause this is only the third of a highly ambitious 10-CD series of works to be completed by the time Daley reaches 70 years of age, all of them crafted in his recent rather dramatic conversion to post-Impressionist neoclassicalism.
Did I say ‘post-Impressionist’? Hm, I may have been a tad hasty, because the term, as with so much of the linguistic baggage applied to art, embraces a good deal more than my trusty 1954 edition of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians is willing to grant. That marvelous but sometimes wanting mini-encyclopedia states that the “chief aim of impressionism is to capture a momentary glimpse of a subject under certain temporary conditions rather than its permanent qualities”, and this quite nails a good deal of what the estimable Mr. Daley is accomplishing here in the very first movement of his five-section Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith, at times searingly illustrative of the technique and its affective qualities.
Three of my all-time favorite CD box sets are obscure collections of rare sounds, all of performances taken from live recitals: New World Records’ Music from the ONCE Festival: 1961 – 1966 (five discs); the Col Legno Leningrad 1988, Vols. 1-6 (six discs); and New World Records’ Testament: A Conduction Collection (ten discs of Lawrence D. ‘Butch’ Morris’ sessions with ensembles). What Daley is doing, and what Davis did and is still doing, is colliding the Classicalist and Romantic periods of classical music with what was sparked by Schoenberg and others, producing what I call ‘incidentalism’ (I’ve merely extended Grove’s definition of ‘incidental music’ to its proper sphere): whole opuses, or elements within them, consisting of even briefer glances than Impressionism propounded, rendered serially, though not necessarily linearly, strung together either as an entire work or tossed in as garni. What this derived from, though, as shown in Cage and Stockhausen, was a historic expansion of consciousness and, after that, the artist’s self-permission to create without necessity to adhere to stifling conventions.
However, the mid-ground within that (starting in utilizations of ancient hallowed traditions, moving to recent more peculiar rules, and then finally the expression of self as artist in a here-and-now granting far more anarchic space than ever before) is what Daley, Davis, and others occupy. This eradicates the too-often irresponsible avenues of free jazz (which is magnificent when done correctly—see, for instance, the new Frank Lowe issuance [here]), the vacuousness of the fruitier sidestreams of the avant-garde (can we say ‘Laurie Anderson’, boys ‘n girls?), and so on. What I’m saying is: this is serious music ensuring the classicalist tradition does not slip into the ‘dead music’ realm Brian Eno accuses it of.
The long Wispercussion suite is segmented according to a quintet of expositions showcasing 80-year old Warren Smith’s percussive excellences. Warren played with Miles, Aretha, Janis, Lena, Lennie Bernstein, and even one of the most maverick of all American musicians, the unclassifiable Harry Partch, among many many others. Daley, who knows from superlative, played with Sam Rivers, Gil Evans, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, and others as well, all stellar names in jazz’s various firmaments. The joining of the two men, then, is something of a major event in this rarefied sector. But also take note of Shadrack/Portrait of Bill Cole. Cole’s the nagaswaram player in the piece, and his work is highly evocative of the late Elton Dean of Soft Machine, playing the distinctive double-reed in a stormy milieu.
Two more cuts appear, but I’ll let you discover those for yourself. Again, though, this is music to listen to. There are so many colorations, images, emotions, and whatnots entablatured that experiencing the events requires one’s full attentions lest so much be missed in work well beyond what Copland, Ives, Grofe, Gershwin, and other modern masters emitted. My favorite track is the closer, Industria, a moody chaotic 9-1/2 minute very progressive piece that could’ve erupted from Univers Zero or some of the highest caliber progrock bands, a grey wonderland of marvels, dangers, intrigues, and ceaseless fascination.
Track List:

1) Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 1….02:51
2) Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 2….02:32
3) Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 3….03:59
4) Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 4….06:44
5) Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 5….07:23
6) Shadrack/Portrait of Bill Cole…………………….………07:23
7) Doretha and the Blues/Portrait of Wanda Daley….………06:08
8) Industria…………………………………….……………..09:23
Composer/Conductor: Joseph Daley
Violin 1: Curtis Stewart [Concertmaster], Mazz Swift, Jason Hwang, Skye Steele, Violin 2: Charles Burnham, Elektra Kurtis, Jessie Montgomery, Sarah Bernstein
Viola: Nick Revel, Janina Norpoth, Trevor New, Nora Krohn, Cello: Akua Dixon, Marika Hughes, Amanda Gookin, Rubin Kodheli, Bass: Ken Filiano, Ben Brown
Keyboards/Piano: Lafayette Harris, Percussion: Warren Smith
Guest Artists: Tracks 6, 7, 8 Jerry Gonzalez [Percussion], Onaje Allan Gumbs [Keyboards],, Satoshi Takeishi [Percussion], Richard Huntley [Percussion] Track 8 only Gregory Williams [French Horn]
Edited by: David N. Pyles

Wispercussion – Five Portraits of Warren Smith – MVT. 3

Wispercussion is a five-part suite for chamber
orchestra that features percussionist Warren Smith.

Movement three: Tympani in a solo portrait that
explores the melodic potential of this instrument.
This movement is centered on the blues.

The composition ‘Wispercussion/Five Portraits
of Warren Smith/ Mvt. 3’
is taken from the CD entitled,

“Portraits – Wind, Thunder and Love”
produced by Joseph Daley for
Joda Music Records/Catghaut Arts Inc.

Available from CD Baby and
Downtown Music Gallery NYC
cover design by Scott Friedlander

This is a film by Robert O’Haire and Jeff Burns
straw2gold pictures


JAZZforum in Washington DC

JAZZforum with percussion legend Warren Smith.

Wednesday September 17th, 7pm

University of the District of Columbia

Recital Hall, Performing Arts Building, 46-west

Free and open to the public

Warren smith is a multi-faceted musician – a master percussionist, composer, educator, and music activist whose career has covered a wide spectrum of performances, recordings, and collaborations. In addition to his New York-based jazz composition and performance cooperative, the Composer’s Workshop Ensemble, Smith was a founding member of Max Roach’s percussion ensemble M’Boom and has worked with artists such as Miles Davis, Sam Rivers, Charles, Mingus, Anthony Braxton, Andrew White, Nat King Cole, and Aretha Franklin to name a few.

Smith is also an archivist with a rare collection of original scores and recordings of ensembles of his own and of his fellow musicians and composers, particularly percussionists. He will discuss his extensive career, background, experiences, and current projects.

In a JazzTimes profile, Lyn Horton writes: “His capacity to make music exceeds that of many modern masters in any part of the music world.”

This JAZZforum is presented in cooperations with Philanthropic Cultural Expressions, Inc.


Review of Dialogues @ ShapeShifter Lab


dialogues, live @ shapeshifter lab brooklyn

Artdialogue /

Warren Smith (vib, dr, perc), Edith Lettner (as, ss, duduk)

On this live recording, saxophonist Edith Lettner (who also plays the Armenian duduk) presents herself in an exceedingly clairaudient improvisational union with veteran percussionist Warren Smith. What you can expect is improvisational music on a high level. Lettner proves to be a sensitive and virtuoso instrumentalist who doesn’t dread leaving her comfort zone while she trenchantly interacts with her partner Smith. Their range covers careful touches to swirling cascades of notes, occasionally suggesting a penchant for small intervallics, many times even in parallel or jumbled in lively alternation. It’s a treat hearing how Lettner can get persistently wound up in small motifs and particles while she continuously refines them as if she were possessed (in the most positive sense of the word, naturally). Smith is a fabulous conversationalist and you wouldn’t expect anything else from such an accomplished player. They draw on all kinds of sources, cis and transatlantic as well as others and yet they always remain true to themselves, thankfully. The result is definitively worth listening to- it is very good. Thank you for the dialogue!

(Bertl Grisser)

M’BOOM Performing at Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta



Featuring legendary percussionists: Bobby Sanabria, Eli Fountain, Ray Mantilla, Warren Smith, and Joe Chambers and also KBz Strings and special guests.

Download the program for this event

Saturday, June 14th

8pm – 11pm

Arrive 7pm for Q&A before concert!

Rich Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center

1280 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30309


M’Boom was the brainchild of Max Roach, the late percussionist, visionary, and seminal figure of modern jazz. In 1970, Roach gathered six notable drummers – percussionists to explore and compose for the myriad instruments in the percussion family and named the group “M’Boom.” M’Boom (pronounced ‘em-boom) has a double meaning: it is an onomatopoeia, or “sound word” that sounds like the object of descrip- tion, i.e. boom, pow, crack, etc., it is also the name of a secret order of drummers in Northern Senegal.

After Max Roach’s death in 2007, original M’Boom members, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith and Ray Mantilla vowed to fulfill the vision originally planned for M’Boom.

Joe Chambers has worked with some of the most influential jazz figures of the last several decades and is a recognized perfomer and composer whose works have been performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He has recorded more than 500 albums and CDs and performed and recorded with jazz greats like Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie to name a few. Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Orchestra Live at Dizzy’s Coca Cola” was nominated for a Grammy in the Big Band category.

Eli Fountain joined M’Boom in 1981. He has performed with Muhal Richard Abrams, the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Geri Allen. His compositions include the percussion ballet “Play,” written for New York’s Complexions Dance Company and has also served as music director for Yale Repertory Company production of King Lear.

Warren Smith has performed extensively in the studio and on Broadway. As the
1960s and 70s progressed, Smith found himself working amid a flourishing mass of creative personalities in the Motown music scene, empowering his already articulate voice within the jazz community; live performances, recordings, and tours with figures like Dionne Warwick, Nat King Cole, Harry Belfonte, and Aretha Franklin all became part of Smith’s credits through 1978. He remains a prominent percussionist and drummer within the jazz world.

Ray Mantilla entered the interna- tional spotlight in 1960 with flutist Herbie Mann, and later embarked on a series of national tours with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in Europe and Japan. In 1977, Mantilla became the first North American Latin musician to play in Cuba since the Cuban Revolution. Mantilla has recorded on more than 200 albums.

Bobby Sanabria – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, recording artist, producer,
filmmaker, conductor, educator, activist, multi-cultural warrior and 7X Grammy nominee as a leader–has performed with a veritable Who’s Who in the world of jazz and Latin music, as well as with his own critically acclaimed ensembles. His diverse recording and performing experience includes work with such legendary figures as Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Paquito D’Rivera, Charles McPherson, Mongo Santamaría, Ray Barretto, Marco Rizo, Arturo Sandoval, and many more. Bobby a total of seven nomina- tions for the coveted Grammy award.

The KBz Strings, under the direction of Kerren Berz, the accom- plished violinist and current Concertmaster of the Columbus (GA) Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Berz has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, the Harlem Festival Orchestra, and the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and shared the stage with musical legends, including Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Joni Mitchell.

Violins: Kerren Berz, Felix Farrar, Angele Lawless

Viola: Lana Teko-Ahatefou

Cello: Alexandra Haines

Special Guests

Howard Nicholson – Woodwinds and Flute

A native of Tuskegee, Alabama, Mr. Nicholson is a multi-reed musician and has been living in Atlanta since 1970. He and Joe Jennings formed the group Life Force in 1973. They have performed in and around Atlanta at local jazz clubs and festivals for many years. He has also played with such greats as Duke Pearson, Nancy Wilson, Steve Wonder, Jimmy Smith, James Brown, and Gladys Knight. Life Force currently performs with the African American Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of John Peek.

Edwin Williams – Bass

Edwin Williams is a native of Wilmington, NC and is the owner of ESS Studios in Atlanta. Mr. Williams is accomplished acoustic and electric bassist. He has toured extensively overseas and nationally with major jazz, R&B, Blues, Big Band artists and performs annually in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s production of “A Soulful Christmas Celebration”. He has performed with the John Robertson Trio for over twenty years and has recorded two CD’s “When Giants Stepped” and his solo project “Chill With Me”. will be released in June 2014.